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SCV Outdoor Report: Things That Go "Whoo" In The Night

Where are you and "whoooooo's" watching?

By Wendy Langhans

Do you know where you are? I don’t mean geopolitically - as in northern LosAngeles County inthe state of California. I mean ecologically? Can you name two trees that are native to ourarea?

 

Coast live oak and sycamore.

 

That’s good. Now, howabout three furry mammals?

 

Mountain lions and coyotes and...does my pet cat count?

 

Not really, but two out of three isn’t bad for a start. How about four night-flying raptors?

 

Um...you mean those dinosaurs in “JurrasicPark”.

 

I think you get my point.

 

I’m going to spend the next few weeks talking about night-flyingraptors - our local bird of prey – the owls. That way, when you head outdoors on Halloween night, you’ll be preparedfor things that go “whooo…” in the night. We’re going to start this week with:

 

GreatHorned Owls(bubo virginianus)

 

Image
photo courtesy Lilian Darling Holt

 

This owl is found throughout much of North America,including urban parks and open spaces. It’sa large bird, with a length of 18-25” and a wingspan of 40-57”. It is mainly active at night, hunting smallrodents like mice, gophers and ground squirrels. It will also hunt snakes and skunks.

 

When we observe a Great Horned Owl, the first feature wenotice is its large eyes, which are almost as big as our own. In fact, if that owl were as big as us,proportionally its eyes would be the size of oranges.

Sponsored By:

Martin Johnson Home Creations

 

The second feature we notice are the tufts of feathers thatlook like ears. They’re not. The real earsare located onthe sides of its head near the eyes, and are asymmetrically set, with the rightear slightly higher than the left. Thisgives the owl the ability to locate its prey by the sound it makes, because, asthe owl looks directly down, it can locate the source on both the x and yaxis.

 

Here’s an amazing videofrom the BBC that demonstrates what I mean. Even though this was filmed in the artic, ithelps us better understand our own little corner of the world. As the poet T.S Elliot said, “We shall notcease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive wherewe started and know the place for the first time

 

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Upcoming Outdoor Events:

 

Weekend Errands. Nowyou can recycle your compact fluorescent light bulbs at your local HomeDepot Store . Take your expired, unbroken lamps to the returns counter atany Home Depot Store. According torecent Waste Management newsletter, one CFL can save $30 in energy costs overits lifetime, reduce coal consumption by 200 pounds and prevent more than 400pounds of greenhouse gas emission. But carrythose expired bulbs carefully, because they contain toxins.

 

Saturday, October 11, 8:00-10:00AM. Bird Hike at TowsleyCanyon.

For maps and directions, click here.

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.

 

Sunday, October 12, 6:30-8:30PM. Full Moon Hike at TowsleyCanyon.

Suitable for famlies. Bring water and wear close-toedshoes. Flashlight optional.

For maps and directions, click here .

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.

 

Saturday, October 11 and 25th, and every Wednesday, 8:00 am. Trail Maintenance Volunteers at TowsleyCanyon.

Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderieand a heart-thumping workout. For moreinformation contact Steve Ioerger at661-291-1565.

 

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You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report",brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by theMountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

 

For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and fortrail maps, click hereor go to www.LAMountains.com.